Sick Goat

Uh oh, you sense something is wrong, you have a sick goat. Now what?  First and foremost, we are not veterinarians. When in doubt consult your vet! The following remedies have worked reliably for us and we are comfortable doing.  Your first awareness will be changes in behavior or changes in their poop. Practice your Famacha skills. Often the first sign the goat is a little lethargic, laying around, walking slowly, not interested in treats, or poor body condition.  If you spot anything but your normal poop pellets laying around, trouble may be brewing. Find the goat with the runny or clumpy poops and address it before possibly spreading to your herd. Take your goats temperature when you suspect a problem, normal temp is between 101.5-103.5 degrees.  I like to measure the goat’s weight to see if the treatment is working. Typically a goat will lose weight when health declines and gain weight when on the mend.

Goat Medications and Vets

The majority of medications for goats in the United States are used off-label or extra-label. That means the manufacturer has not done the required government or safety testing for goats. The manufacturer will most likely NOT provide dosages for goats. When in doubt, speak to your vet. Also, do not confuse sheep with goats! They are very different.

There is lots of discussion how to administer medications: orally, SubQ (Subcutaneous, under skin), or IM (Inter Muscular, in the muscle). On our farm we do only do oral and SubQ. We never do IM as goats metabolism is 4X faster than most livestock. SubQ works and is much easier on the goat. Orally, we use 10ml & 20ml drench syringes. For SubQ we use 3ml 20 gauge Luer-Lok syringes.

Goat Dosing Syringe

Goat Dosing Syringe

Also, vets are not created equal. Do research and question the prospective veterinarian for experience with goats. Goats are different to treat than most other livestock. Many vets have never touched a goat in vet school.

Parasites, Scours & Bottle Jaw

Scours, or diarrhea, is probably the most common ailment and needs to be caught quickly. Learn more here.  The Barber Pole Worm is the most common US goat parasite and if not kept in check will degrade your goat’s health. If your climate is hot, humid, and wet, parasite reproduction will be high. In my opinion, 50% of your goat’s health is your farm condition and 50% is their genetics.

What are the problem parasites?

The Barber Pole worm, Coccidia, and to a lesser extent, Tapeworms are the most common parasites in goats.  Coccidia mainly affects kids less than 6 months of age, although not common,  adults can contract Cocci too. Stress from weaning can also trigger Coccidiosis.

How do goats get parasites

If you have 50 goats on 50 lush acres you may never need to address parasites.  If you have 20 goats on 2 acres, you will treat for parasites regularly. Goats poop out parasite larvae. The larvae can climb about 6” high onto grass/browse and are then ingested by goats when they eat.  The more goat poop per acre and the higher parasite load in the poop, the more parasites are available to ingest. It can be a vicious circle if not addressed.

About 80% of your parasite problems will be in 40% of your herd. Keeping the 40% healthy will improve your entire herd. Pasture 12” or higher, or rotating pastures, will also lessen parasite problems. Please read our article on Livamol with Bioworma if you want less parasites on your pasture!  Check your goats Famacha every two weeks in high worm load environments.

What are parasite symptoms

If your sick goat has diarrhea, then you probably have missed earlier signs that your animal was in distress such as lethargic, off by themselves, and weight lose. Bottle Jaw appears as a swollen squishy lower jaw and may or may not be accompanied by scours. Bottle Jaw is caused by a major infestation of parasites and is deadly. You have hours to treat and be prepared for an extended recovery.

The Barber Pole worm will cause anemia and/or Bottle Jaw in your goats.  This is a result of low red blood cell count due to parasites living off the inside of your goat. Anemic goats will lack energy and lose weight. It can be fatal if not addressed. Know how to perform Famacha checks on your goat’s eyes and immediately treat 4’s and 5’s. Unlike many pets and other livestock, you cannot completely rid goats of worms, but you can manage to a healthy level. The only way to know what parasite is affecting your goat is by a having a fecal sample tested. If you have a herd, learn to do your own from this University of Rhode Island information, McMaster-Test_Final3.

Can I do my own fecal testing

Goat Fecal - Barbar Pole Eggs

Goat Fecal – Barbar Pole Eggs

Our Fecal test lab costs about $130 on Amazon: Telmu XSP-75 microscope, bag of 50ml test bottles with stand, 140ml glass beaker, strainer, plastic knife and a small paint brush (butt end used to crush goat pellets when needed), used 3cc syringe, McMaster Slide, gram scale, and some float solution.  You can easily make your own float solution with Epsom Salts and water. The University of Arkansas’ Fecal Egg Counting for Sheep and Goat Producers is an easy how-to primer if you want to do your own fecal tests. If the fecal results are in the acceptable range, check the goats temperature, they may be fighting an infection. The key is to be very consistent with your process. Here is a fecal test procedure video from University of Oklahoma.

Home Fecal Test Lab


When to treat sick goat for parasites

Do a fecal test to determine if the parasite is Barber Pole or Cocci. Kids with scours decline very quickly and require immediate treatment. Do not delay, hours count! Bottle Jaw requires immediate treatment.

Under normal circumstances, we only treat our adults with a fecal over 1000 EPG, for nursing does we treat above 800 EPG, and for kids less than 3 months old we assess for treatment with an EPG over 500. Your most important weapon in maintaining a healthy herd is your power of observation.  A slight change in body condition or behavior is often the precursor to health issues and provides a heads up to spot check with a fecal test. We assess our goats individually based on Fecal test, FAMACHA, body condition, and behavior. We strongly suggest the usage of 10ml and 20ml dosing syringes.(keep one for each med) as some goats are experts at coughing out their meds, greatly reducing the effectiveness.

How to treat scours

Goat Medications

Medications to Treat Goat Parasites

Ok, you have done a fecal and taken the goat’s temperature, normal temperature is 101.5-103.5. If the goat’s EPG is high or their FAMACHA score is 1 or 2, then your sick goat most likely has parasites. Early detection is key. The sooner you treat, the quicker the recovery time and less exposure to the rest of your herd. All medication doses are determined by the weight of the goat. A reliable scale is needed. Record their weight so you can see how their treatment is progressing.

Barber Pole Treatment

  • To stop the diarrhea, we give the sick goat two doses of Scour-Chek, 3cc first dose and 2-3cc for second dose about 8-12 hours apart. A real kid saver and a must to have on hand. Note: this does NOT treat the parasites, it only temporarily stops the scours.
  • For Barber Pole worms we do Combination Worming as recommended by the University of Georgia and the current protocol in New Zealand. Treat orally and then do a fecal in a week to access results and look for a 90% reduction in parasite load. We use Cydectin, Valbazen (no Valbazen for pregnant does, use SafeGuard instead), and Prohibit, one type from each of 3 wormer medicine families. VERY IMPORTANT! Only combo dose affected goats. DO NOT combo dose your entire herd or you may adversely affect parasite resistance to wormers.
  • Goat Wormer Dosage Chart by University of Cornell (*NOTE Cydectin in chart is Sheep Cydectin, if using Cattle Cydectin dosage is 1ml per 25lbs).  Langeston University Goat Dewormer Chart more options by concentration for Cydectin. We DO NOT give Valbazen to pregnant does. Also, Prohibit is sold as a powder in a 52 gram pouch. We mix 50ml of water with 2.75 grams of Prohibit powder to have a mixed solution ready for use. Once mixed the shelf-life of Prohibit is 90 days.

Day After Treatment Care

Goat Supplements

Supplements to Aid in Goat Recovery

  • The day after treatment we give the sick goat Probiotic Plus Paste, dosage on label. This puts good bacteria back into their rumen.
  • Occasionally we give B12 Complex injections for 1-3 days to boost recovery, 1ml per 20lbs.
  • After treatment for parasites, if the the sick goat is anemic (Famacha score of 4 or 5), we orally drench Red Cell with a dosage of 6cc per 100 lbs of weight for 3 days, then once a week until better.

How to treat for Coccidiosis?

Coccidia in Goat

Cocci is much smaller than Barbar Pole

  • Doing a fecal on runny kids poop can be challenging. When kids less than 6 months of age have Scours (diarrhea), we treat for both Barbar Pole worms and Coccidiosis. Adults can get Cocci too but not very common.
  • For Coccidiosis we treat with a single dose of Toltrazuril 5%. The dosage for treatment is 1 ml per five pounds of weight given orally. Toltrazuril should be refrigerated. If needed, the dosage may be repeated in ten days. Ponazuril is another brand sometimes offered by veterinarians but I have not found a source to purchase.
  • Once the kids are eating grain, our feed has Cocci preventative in it.
  • Drench slowly and carefully with electrolytes to keep kid hydrated, if needed
  • Follow up the day after treatment with Probiotic Plus Paste to increase their good bacteria
  • Occasionally we give B12 Complex, 1cc per 20lbs SubQ injections for 1-3 days to boost recovery.

Tapeworm Treatment

Goat Tapeworms

Tapeworms or Rice-like Pieces

Goat Tapeworm Eggs

Goat Tapeworm Eggs

  • Tapeworms are not super common but they do happen and can be a little tricky to diagnose.  The most obvious sign is rice-like pieces in their poops. A fecal test can let you know if there is a heavy load of tapeworm eggs. The eggs appear triangle-like compared to the oval Barbar Pole eggs. Their Famacha score may hover around 3 so not a clear indicator either.  Also look for other symptoms like a dull course coat and a pot belly but still losing weight or a kid not just gaining weight like they should.
  • If you suspect tape worms, treat with Valbazen, 1cc per 25 lbs or a more effective treatment is using  Equimax (praziquantel 14%, Ivermection 1..87%), a horse treatment. For goats, multiply their weight by 2 – 3 times and use recommended dosage of 1 line per 220 lbs… so a finger tip amount for a goat.

Listless, Poor Muscle Control, Scours, and/or Fever

So you checked their Famacha, done a fecal, and the results are satisfactory but your goat is weak, walking slowly, listless, poor appetite… just not acting normal.   Check their temperature… a normal temperature is between 101.5 – 103.5.  Anything above or below that range may indicate a bacterial infection or pneumonia.

Goat Polio

If sick goat is wobbly, poor muscle control, maybe tilting head back or side to side, Goat Polio ((thiamine/vitamin B1 deficiency) is possibly the problem. This thiamine deficiency affects the brain.  A healthy rumen produces all the B1 a goat needs but medicine from treating parasites can affect the rumen, especially if multiple treatments for parasites was done. If Polio is suspected, we dose the goat with Fortified Vitamin B Complex, SubQ , 1ml per 20 lbs.  We dose twice on the first day, then a single dose on day 2 and 3, then reassess. Recovery is not always possible and the sooner you dose the better… hours count on this!

Pregnant Doe – Toxemia – Ketoses

If your sick goat is within 4-6 weeks of delivery with no appetite, wobbly or unstable, and maybe away from the herd,  Toxemia or Ketoses may be happening. This occurs when the pregnant mother is not getting enough protein to support her and the babies. The mother uses feed, then her fat, and lastly her own muscle to convert and feed the fetuses. When muscle is being consumed, ketones are released causing Toxemia.  If not addressed immediately, expect a high percentage fatality for mother, fetuses, or both.  Hours count!  Sometimes the babies are pressing against the doe’s rumen subsequently restricting the mother’s ability to consume enough feed. Symptoms develop quickly, good in the morning and wobbly with no appetite in the afternoon.

To treat the pregnant does use a dosing syringe orally and give the doe 60ml of Propylene Glyol (livestock version). Repeat this dosage every 12 hours for 3 days.  The Propylene Glycol coverts to useable sugars and proteins in the rumen. In addition, we supplement nutrition with 20-60ml of Protein Shake (we use vanilla human variety) every few hours until doe is eating on her own.  Recovery is slow and feeding doe extra protein: grain, quality hay, free choice minerals, alfalfa, etc., will need to continue well past delivery and through nursing. The best treatment for Ketoses is prevention.  Double up feed routines during the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy.

Goat Fever

A normal goat temperature is 101.5-103.5. If we suspect a bacterial infection (high or low grade fever with possible scours) or pneumonia, we treat the sick goat with both Penicillin and Nuflor; the combination covers a broad spectrum of possible bacteria causing the problem. We dose Penicillin G SubQ at 1ml per 20lbs daily for 3 days and Nuflor SubQ at 1ml per 18lbs on day 1 and on day 3.


You may only have hours to react… bloat or toxicity are similar and are fast goat killers!  When in doubt, contact your vet sooner than later. Your goat may be having a difficult time getting comfortable: laying down, getting up, and moaning.  They may be standing and stretching out their body repeatedly, laying down, getting up, stretching… repeat. The may be very lethargic. Get them on their feet and assess if their stomach is bloated. Here is a good overview on bloat. Most often caused by a change in diet, new weeds, grain, rich green pasture, or just being a bottle baby may cause gas to form and get trapped in their rumen. More on info on bloat here. Left unattended, it can be fatal in hours. Caught early it is usually easily treatable.

To begin, we take 2cc of  Therabloat and add 30cc of water in an oral syringe then give to the goat in small amounts to ensure they are swallowing it and not going into their lungs and suffocating them.  Gently massage their stomach, especially the left side just behind their rib cage.  In a few minutes they should burp or fart to relieve the trapped gas.

If still fully bloated after 30 more minutes, give them some vegetable oil, a couple tablespoons for a kid and up to a 1/4 cup for a full sized adult. The oil can bond with the gas bubbles and allow them to pass. Until the gas subsides, try to keep the goat walking around… movement is good, laying down is not.

Toxicity (more common in kids less than 6 months)

If they have similar symptoms to Bloat but their sides do not appear bloated, they may be suffering from toxicity.  The sick goat will be moaning or bleating in pain, stretching, or lying down and not moving.  Give them an injection of Penicillin, 1 cc per 20lbs, SubQ.  For pain, give 0.4cc per 25lbs on Banamine. Do your best to keep them comfortable. The next 24 hours is the critical time. Survival rates are not high in kids.

Goopy/Pink Eye

Does your sick goat have goop or crusties in the corner of their eyes? If yes, we start with a damp cloth and spray their eyes with a Colloidal Silver solution and gently wipe clean.  We then add a Polybactin/Terramycin in their eyes.  Do this about 3 times a day. If eyes do not clear up in a couple days, then give them a SubQ injection of NuFlor antibiotic, 1cc per 20lbs, 2 doses 48 hours apart. Pink eye is contagious and can spread to the herd and between mom and her kids.

Sore Hoof

Is you goat limping or favoring a hoof?  Changes are the have an infection or beginning of hoof rot.  Clean their hooves and trim them (many Youtube videos on how to trim goat hooves). Invest in a good pair of hoof trimmers.  Once cleaned and trimmed, we soak the affected hoof in Hoof’n Heal.  We also have a goat hoof boot that we sometimes strap on to protect the affected hoof for a few hours. The sick goat should improve with a few days of treatment.  If not, do a SubQ injection of NuFlor antibiotic, 1cc per 20lbs, 2 doses 48 hours apart.


Did you goat lose patches of body hair or its hair just above the hoof? Sometimes the skin around their hooves looks red and scabie? If yes, they probably have mites.  Give them inject-able Ivomectin SubQ once a week for three weeks, 1ml per 25lbs, and treat any scabie affected area daily with Nu-Stock until symptoms improve. I also clean and replace bedding area then dust the goat daily with diatomaceous earth.

Rectum or Vagina Prolapses

Vaginal Prolapse

Goat Vaginal Prolapse

Prolapse prior to treatment

What is a prolapse?  A prolapse occurs when the inside rectal or vaginal channel pushes past the rectum or vagina muscle and protrudes outside of the animal. This requires immediate attention as the tissue can be easily damaged and/or become infected.

For does, prolapses may occur either from their vagina or rectum. Bucks only prolapse from their rectum.  What causes a prolapse?  Rectal prolapses are most likely to occur in over weight goats, extended and repeated coughing, or constipation. Vaginal prolapses typically occur during the  last trimester of pregnancy when the mass of growing kids pushes on the does insides. The animal will need to be treated for coughing if that is the cause.

What can you do?  Take action immediately.  As with any sick goat, if you are unsure, call your vet.  To take action yourself, you will need the following: a bucket of warm water with Betadine (or equivalent) added to the water, a bottle of Betadine, latex gloves, a cup of granulated sugar, Preparation H or equivalent, and Penicillin with needle/syringe.  I also recommend restraining the goat’s head with a halter or a second person.  I would also trim the hair feathers off the bottom of their tale to help with your visibility and keeping the area clean.

Immediately following prolapse treatment

Put your gloves on! With the goat standing between your legs, VERY gently pour the warm water over the prolapse and carefully remove any foreign substance for example: hair, straw or bedding, dirt, or feces, etc. The tissue is very easy to tear or damage so be gentle.  Once clean, squirt Betadine on the prolapse to rinse.  Next, sprinkle some sugar on prolapse to absorb excess moisture and help shrink the inflamed tissue.  Now gently and slowly push the prolapse back inside the goat with the palm of your hand.  You may need to gently push one side and then the other but do not be too forceful. Be patient but if it won’t recede inside, you will need a vet. After the prolapse is back inside, insert a finger to recede it as far as possible into its normal position.

If the prolapse reoccurs, repeat the above procedure.  For pregnant goats, you may need a vet to place a few sutures in the vaginal opening to hold back the pressure from the growing kids.  NOTE: when the goat goes into labor you will need to be present and cut the sutures for the kids to deliver.y

Apply the Preparation H (or equivalent) to the vagina or rectum immediately and then three times a day to help reduce swelling and improve comfort for the goat. To reduce the chance of infection, give a SubQ injection of Penicillin (1ml per 20 lbs of goat) once a day for five days.


Weak Kid Syndrome

Do you have a newborn kid who is having difficulty standing or walking, possibly weak hind legs, or maybe having difficulty suckling/feeding? They may have a Selenium deficiency, especially if they are smaller than average.

Always provide your goats with free choice high quality minerals… prevention comes first! However, if needed, we have used a dose of Selenium and Vitamin E Gel to bring kids around, a single 2cc dose per kid. Do not hesitate to gently help the kid feed every 1-2 hours during the first couple days until they can be self-sufficient in feeding from their mom. Yes… thru the night.  Also, we recommend keeping the doe and kids together in a stall, away from the other does and kids, until the kids are self-sufficient and mobile.  Kids are at high risk of getting laid upon or stepped on with potentially fatal consequences until they are able to quickly hop out of the way, even by mom in their own stall!




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